50 million people still in ‘modern slavery’ worldwide, UN

United Nations International Labour Organisation, ILO says the number of people still trapped in forced labour and other crises has increased by 5% in recent years to about 50 million on any given day.

According to a study by the United Nations agencies for labour and migration along with the walk-free foundation, more than half of the figure had been forced to work against their will and the rest were forced into marriage by the end of last year.

Difficult to believe right?

The report also said nearly one out of every 150 people in the world is caught up in modern forms of slavery, stating that those forced to work against their will and those forced into marriage both come under the definition of modern-day slavery, as they involve people “who cannot refuse or cannot leave because of threat, violence, deception, abuse of power or other forms of coercion”.

The ILO said women and children are by far the most vulnerable. Children account for one out of five people in forced labour, with more than half of them stuck in commercial sexual exploitation.

What could be the factor responsible for this menace?

Director-General of ILO, Guy Ryder told News Agency that modern slavery is present in basically every country, with more than half of cases of forced labour and a quarter of forced marriages in upper-middle-income or high-income countries. “It would be a mistake to believe that forced labour is solely the problem of poor countries,” he said.

The United Nations had set a goal to eradicate all forms of modern slavery by 2030, but the number of people caught up in forced labour or forced marriage ballooned by 10 million between 2016 and 2021.

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According to ILO, the situation was exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic which worsened conditions and swelled debt levels for many workers, as well as armed conflicts and climate change, leaving people in extreme poverty and forcing more to migrate.